Monday, October 23, 2017

SAM Day November 8

Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day logo
by Linda Theil

For all those Shakespeare enthusiasts who find the traditional April 23 date for Shakespeare celebrations inappropriate and unsatisfying, rejoice! We now have Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day: November 8 -- the day of the 1623 publication of The First Folio -- to rally 'round.

Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship President Tom Regnier, JD, LLM, said:
We've designed Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day to raise the visibility of the Shakespeare authorship question. SAM Day is intended to be a single day when all authorship doubters can amplify their voices while commemorating the date of the First Folio publication. 
. . . We hope the celebration of Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day will provide a platform for all groups and individuals studying the authorship question to promote their work and increase curiosity about the true authorship of Shakespeare's plays and poems.
The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition and the Shakespearean Authorship Trust, and other groups and individuals plan to celebrate SAM Day. Oberon readers may participate by any of the following means: 
  • Create doubt-provoking memes to share on your social media channels and post throughout the day 
  • Use the hashtag #shakespeareauthorshipmysteryday 
  • Send out a Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day email to your members and network 
  • Post links to the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare 
  • Post new articles or videos on the day
  • Post lists of resources – books, websites, and articles that you recommend -- for example: five movies about the Shakespeare authorship question.
  • Share Shakespeare quotes
  • Offer a one-day discount on books or merchandise 
  • Issue a press release 
  • Share links to classic articles about the Shakespeare authorship question
  • Encourage students to ask their English literature and history teachers about the Shakespeare authorship question
  • Point to weblogs and websites that provide more information

Celebrate SAM Day on November 8.

Rosey and the Giant Matzo

Rosey Hunter chooses Matzo Ball Soup at Stage Deli in West Bloomfield, MI Oct. 20, 2017.

by Linda Theil

October 23, 2017

Oberons gathered at The Stage Deli in West Bloomfield, Michigan last Friday to celebrate the return of Oberon Chair Richard Joyrich, MD, from the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship conference in Chicago. Joyrich reported that he had dinner with our dear friends and ex-pat Oberons, Tom and Joy Townsend, who traveled from their home in Seattle to the Chicago event. Joyrich also told us that Hank Whittemore had been named Oxfordian of the Year 2017 for his work on the book, 100 Reasons Shakespeare was the Earl of Oxford, and for many achievements highlighted in the SOF news blog article "Hank Whittemore: Oxfordian of the Year 2017".  The 2018 SOF conference will be held in Oakland, California.

Sharon Hunter and Richard Joyrich at Stage Deli in West Bloomfield, MI on Oct. 20, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017

Oberons met October 9, 2017

Richard Joyrich studies menu at Beau's after September 9, 2017
Oberon Shakespeare Study Group Meeting at Bloomfield Twp. Library, MI.
Linda Theil
September 18 2017

Oberon Shakespeare Study Group met for the first time since spring at the Bloomfield Twp. Library. Our chair Richard Joyrich, Rosey Hunter, Sharon Hunter, Pam Verilone, Robin Browne, and I attended. Joyrich shared his impressions of the Stratford Ontario Shakespeare Festival where he spent a week play-going. He also attended the Shaw Festival and stopped by to visit Oberon friend, Lynne Kositsky, who has recently moved.

We viewed the video offerings for the Shakespeare Oxford Society's first video short contest, "Who Wrote Shakespeare?", and Joyrich shared information about the upcoming SOS conference that will be held October 12-15, 2017 in Chicago.

Sharon Hunter and Rosey Hunter at Sept. 9, 2017 Oberon Shakespeare
 Study Group meeting at Bloomfield Twp. Library, MI.
Robin Browne at Sept. 9, 2017 Oberon Shakespeare
 Study Group meeting at Bloomfield Twp. Library, MI.
Pam Verilone and Richard Joyrich at Sept. 9, 2017 Oberon Shakespeare
 Study Group meeting at Bloomfield Twp. Library, MI.

Slings and Arrows!
Oberon Chair Richard Joyrich recommended a decade-old Canadian TV comedy series titled "Slings and Arrows" about a Shakespeare festival similar to -- but not at all really like! -- the Stratford Festival. View on YouTube, or purchase on Amazon.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Every Inch a Lear

David Montee, AEA, as King Lear at Interlochen Center for the Arts 2017.
Photo courtesy Interlochen Center for the Arts

A Review of King Lear at Interlochen Center for the Arts—July 8, 2017
by Richard Joyrich

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing a wonderful production of King Lear Saturday night along with Linda Theil at Interlochen Center of the Arts in northwest Michigan.

Interlochen has held an annual Shakespeare Festival for 10 years now and I am been privileged to have been able to see at least two productions there in the past, Twelfth Night in 2008 and The Taming of the Shrew in 2009. Both of these were excellent performances, but the production of King Lear this year far exceeded them.

Of course, the main reason that I enjoyed the production so much is the extraordinary talent of David Montee in the title role. I have seen King Lear at many other venues, including productions at the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario with William Hutt and Colm Feore as Lear and Montee’s performance was even more enjoyable to me in many ways.

Montee knows how to inject just the right amount of humor into the role during the scenes when Lear descends into madness, while retaining the pathos and dignity of the character at all times. I was thus particularly glad to see that the director of the play, William Church, chose to leave in much of Act 4, scene 6 intact (the only scene where Lear and Gloucester have any kind of meaningful dialog together) combining the mad Lear who is only now beginning to understand humanity and the blind Gloucester who now finds that he is beginning to “see clearly” how the world really works. It is a wonderful and pivotal scene (but frequently cut short in many productions of the play) and David Montee as Lear and Jeffrey Nauman as Gloucester carry it off beautifully.

David Montee is also able to project the controlled rage of Lear when he is thwarted again and again and knows just when to allow his voice to come out in a roar. In short, Montee’s performance is perfectly nuanced and appropriate to all situations Lear is exposed to in the play.

Linda and I were able to meet David for coffee the next day and we discussed (among other things) his portrayal of Lear. He confided that he had based his performance on that of Peter Ustinov in a memorable production in 1980 at the Stratford Festival in Ontario. Ustinov and his understudy Maurice Good published a rehearsal journal of this production in 1982, titled Every Inch a Lear (based of course on Lear’s famous line in Act 4, scene 6, “Aye, every inch a king”). Appropriately, I have also used this title for my blog entry.

Other actors in the cast had very notable performances as well. I single out Skylar Okerstrom-Lang as a very energetic and realistic Edgar, particularly in his assumed role of Poor Tom and the way he plays off the other characters he encounters.

I also enjoyed the performance of Jeremy Gill as the Fool. He and David Montee had wonderful scenes together and I very much like the way he just walked off stage, whistling, in the opposite direction of everyone else as some kind of explanation (I suppose from the director) of the Fool’s sudden and unexplained disappearance in the middle of the play after giving the enigmatic line, “And I’ll go to bed at noon”.

This production of Lear (as in the case of the last five years of the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival) took place in the beautiful outdoor Upton-Morley Pavilion. Performing outdoors of course always carries the risks of inclement weather and extraneous noise, but in the idyllic Camelot-like setting of Interlochen this is not at all a problem. David told us that, in the five years of performing outdoors in this pavilion there was only ever one instance of rain, and that was only a sort of light drizzle.

An outdoor setting for this current performance was ideal and really allowed the audience to “enter the world of the play.” Okerstrom-Lang, as Edgar, took every opportunity to enhance his portrayal of Edgar as Poor Tom by rubbing real dirt from the edges of the pavilion onto his body and picking up sharp looking rocks and twigs to mutilate himself (thankfully this last was only play-acting) and many other actors took advantage of the setting to effect dramatic entrances and exits.

In addition, there is nothing like being outdoors to feel a part of the famous storm scene. Through the amazing performances of the actors on stage and appropriate use of lighting and sound effects, it was possible to almost actually feel the [nonexistent] rain while watching the play.

In all, this was an incredible experience at Interlochen for both Linda and myself and a wonderful way of celebrating David Montee’s retirement after 21 years of being the Director of the Theatre Arts Division at Interlochen Arts Academy.

But, Montee was quick to point out to us that he is not finished with acting and will certainly be back for future productions at the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival or other venues, “if they ask me."

I have no doubt at all, David, that they will.

Montee is the best Lear ever

Oberon chair Richard Joyrich, MD and David Montee, PhD, AEA rejoice after Montee's superb performance as Lear
July 8, 2017 at Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen MI. Photo: Linda Theil
by Linda Theil

Oberons returned to Interlochen, MI this weekend to cheer our friend David Montee, PhD in his final performance as Lear at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Montee -- a Shakespearean actor of extraordinary merit -- retired this term after 30 years teaching at Interlochen Arts Academy.

Oberon Chair Richard Joyrich, MD and I attended the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival production of Lear on July 8, 2017 in the outdoor Upton-Morley Pavilion on the Interlochen campus.

Lear set, Upton-Morley Pavilion, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen MI, 2017
During the Lear ovation, Joyrich said, "The best I've ever seen." This is high praise from an enthusiast who knows the canon exquisitely. Joyrich shares his enthusiasm for Montee's performance with our readers here at "Every Inch a Lear".

David Montee as Lear and Jeremy Gill as Fool, July 8, 2017, Interlochen Center for the Arts,
 Intelochen MI. Photo: courtesy Interlochen Center for the Arts

Also included in the cast were Peter Carroll as France, and Jeremy Gill as Fool -- both of whom Oberons saw in the Interlochen production of Cardenio at the Interlochen "Shakespeare Authorship Symposium" in April. During Sunday morning coffee at Bud's, Montee told us that Jeremy Gill's parents: Michael Gill and Jayne Atkinson of HBO's House of Cards were in the audience on Saturday to support their son. 

During a wide-ranging discussion of the plays on Bud's roomy porch, Montee recommended M.M. Mahood's Playing Bit Parts in Shakespeare for its insight into the depth of Shakespeare's characterization. Oberons would add, in that vein, Montee's own outstanding text on acting: Translating Shakespeare: a Guide for Young Actors (Smith & Kraus, 2014).

Oberons thank you, David Montee, for your work and your art.

Daylilies from the gardens at Hofbrau House where Oberons had dinner on July 8, 2017.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Young actors respond to Shakespeare authorship controversy

Interlochen Arts Academy students Clara Honigberg and Peter Carroll attend the
"Shakespeare Authorship Symposium" April 22, 2017 at Interlochen Center for the Arts.
by Linda Theil

David Montee's "Shakespeare Authorship Symposium" at Interlochen Center for the Arts on April 22, 2017, included a large audience contingent of Montee's students who attend his acting classes at Interlochen Arts Academy -- a fine-arts, boarding, high-school in Interlochen, Michigan.

Among the students attending were two of the principal actors in Montee's production of CardenioClara Honigberg of Washington DC who played Luscinda, and Peter Carroll of San Francisco who played Fernando. Both young actors expressed enthusiasm for the topic of Shakespeare authorship, and they agreed to share their reactions and insights with Oberon readers. Their interviews are highlighted below.

Academy post-grad Anna Armstrong also shared her response to the authorship symposium. Armstrong is taking Mantee's Acting Shakespeare class to prepare her portrayal of Lady Macbeth; and she will perform the role of Eliza Doolittle in Interlochen Center for the Arts' May 12 and 13, 2017 production of My Fair Lady. 

I enjoyed the symposium immensely and think it was a brilliant way to get students' minds going about such an intricate and seemingly controversial topic. As a young actress, I am fairly new to the world of Shakespeare but I love academic discussion and debate, so watching those two come together was wonderful. 
I found the symposium to be informative, insightful, and entertaining. Now that the authorship question has been posed, I feel curious enough to begin my own research and exploration on the topic. I appreciate the time and effort that the members of the panel gave us and share a special thank you to the academy’s instructor of all things Shakespeare, Dr. David Montee, who organized the event.
Montee had invited Oberon chair Richard Joyrich, MD, to give an overview of the authorship question at the symposium, and to participate in an afternoon panel discussion with Sabrina Feldman, PhD, who supports Thomas Sackville; and actor Scott Harman who supports the traditional Stratfordian attribution.

The students in Montee's Acting Shakespeare class were required to attend as part of their course work. Montee said:
The responses of our students to the symposium were quite enthusiastic, and I think it gave them a clearer picture of the major questions behind the authorship controversy. 
Spirited discussions continue with the students about the authorship of the plays, in class and informally. They're fascinated, and are researching more on their own. Exactly what I wanted to happen.
So far, about 20 students have signed the poster board "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt"; when the lines ran out, they signed around the blank borders near the bottom. When everyone has signed it that wants to, we'll hang it somewhere in the theater hallways, then send you a picture to post on your blog.

Interview with Interlochen Arts Academy student, Peter Carroll

Oberon: Are you interested in the Shakespeare authorship controversy?
Carroll: Yes, though until the symposium I was relatively unaware that there even was such thing as an authorship controversy. Sure, I had hear some conversation over the uncertainty surrounding the Bard’s identity, but the sheer amount of puzzling facts that complicate the issue was astounding. Now, it has thoroughly captivated my interest.

Oberon: Do you feel that the controversy has any impact at all on your work on the stage?

Carroll: The controversy has in no way tainted my view of this “Shakespeare”, whoever he was. If anything, the issue has inspired me to dig into his texts with even more ferocity. To think that some answer lies buried within lines of beautiful verse to be uncovered by the savvy actor greatly excites me.

Oberon: In general, does an actor's work have any relationship at all to the author/screenwriter/content provider's work?

Carroll: That’s an interesting question. I’m sure in many ways the content provider has some say over the actor’s work, some sense of pushing the actor to give the performance he envisioned. But with the works of “Shakespeare”, the original content provider is long, long dead. Therefore, the actor has more of an opportunity to interpret the text as totally fresh, to create a performance that is entirely their own. We like to think that by analyzing the text closely enough, an actor can capture the original essence of the role he is portraying.

Oberon: To your best recollection, could you comment on your response to any and/or all of the three speakers at the event: Joyrich, Feldman and Harman? Did you find any or all of them compelling? Have you developed your own viewpoint on the topic of the Shakespeare authorship?

Carroll: I thought each presenter had some extremely interesting ideas, although some had more of a knack for presenting than others. Mr Harman, for instance, had natural stage presence and thus came across as very convincing. Mrs. Feldman delivered the most original and interesting argument I had ever heard on the Shakespeare issue, presenting some uncanny points about Thomas Sackville's connection to the Shakespeare canon. This symposium has certainly cultivated the idea in my mind that the works of “Shakespeare” are very likely made up of multiple [writers], as collaboration between playwrights was a very common theme of the early moderns.

Oberon: What is your sense of how your peers have responded to the issue?

Carroll: I have seen NO trace of resistance to this topic among my friends. I have admired the open-mindedness that my fellow theater students have maintained about this whole topic. The [Reasonable Doubt] poster board given to us by Mr. Joyrich has been signed by many theater students so far, and I’m sure more are still to come.

Oberon: Will you present a paper or other academic response to your attendance at the symposium? Did you receive academic credit for attending?

Carroll: It was mandatory for us to attend the symposium. My Acting Shakespeare class is required to write a two-to-three-page paper for academic credit detailing how we felt about the symposium and what answer we had to the Shakespeare authorship question.  

Oberon: Do you think the Shakespeare authorship is is a topic worthy of consideration, or is it academically inappropriate?

Carroll: It is absolutely an essential question to be asking. I think academic curiosity about the foremost writer of the western world should be expected. We are all intellectuals and students, why not be inquisitive about Shakespeare’s legitimacy? Why condemn the person who challenges the norm? Who’s getting hurt in the process? It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Interview with Interlochen Arts Academy student, Clara Honigberg

Oberon: Are you interested in the Shakespeare authorship controversy?
Honigberg: I am definitely interested in the authorship of Shakespeare and all the controversy that comes with it. The symposium inspired me to sign the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt!

Oberon: you feel that the controversy has any impact at all on your work on the stage?
Honigberg: I don't feel as though it impacts the work I do on stage. No matter who wrote the plays they are still beautifully written and performed with just as much passion as they would be if we were to discover evidence that proved someone else was the true author of the plays.

Oberon: In general, does an actor's work have any relationship at all to the author/screenwriter/content provider's work?
Honigberg: I believe an actor's work does have a relationship to the author. An actor should always be aware of the author's past and particular life events that may have inspired parts of the play. Doing research as an actor is crucial in order to have a crystal clear understanding of their character and the play as a whole.

Oberon: To your best recollection, could you comment on your response to any and/or all of the three speakers at the event: Joyrich, Feldman and Harman? Did you find any or all of them compelling? Have you developed your own viewpoint on the topic of the Shakespeare authorship?
Honigberg: Joyrich presented an argument for the Earl of Oxford being the true author of Shakespeare's plays. He presented some evidence, but it was hard to follow because he spoke very quietly and didn't have any visual aids. He agreed with many of Feldman's points, but applied it to the Earl of Oxford rather than to Sackville.

Feldman's presentation was very strong with lots of evidence supporting Thomas Sackville as the true "Shakespeare." She obviously had done extensive research on the authorship of Shakespeare and was able to provide sufficient evidence against any potential loopholes presented to her within the argument of Thomas Sackville.

Harman gave the most entertaining and engaging argument of all the speakers. It was very easy to follow and the way in which he presented it drew the audience in. Although the presentation was great, Harman barely provided evidence supporting that Shakespeare is in fact Shakespeare.

All presentations helped me further develop my view of who the true author of the Shakespearean plays are. I believe the person who provided the most convincing evidence and gave the most compelling argument was Sabrina Feldman. She convinced me almost completely that Thomas Sackville is the true author. Unfortunately, we will probably never know who the author truly was.

Oberon: What is your sense of how your peers have responded to the issue?
Honigberg: All of my peers have had very strong responses to the symposium. It has inspired many discussions at lunch and throughout the day. We are all continuing to discuss who we thought presented the best arguments and who we think wrote the "Shakespearean" plays.

Oberon: Will you have to present a paper or other academic response to our attendance at the symposium? Did you receive academic credit for attending?
Honigberg: I will have to present a paper to David Montee -- the director of Cardenio and my Acting Shakespeare instructor -- about who I thought had the most compelling argument. I did not receive any academic credit for attending, but was required to. If it weren't required to attend, I still would have stayed.

Oberon: Do you think the Shakespeare authorship is is a topic worthy of consideration, or is it academically inappropriate?
Honigberg: I think it is worth discussing the authorship of Shakespeare at great length. It is a very intriguing topic that I think more people should open their minds to and start considering other possible authors as being the man we know as "Shakespeare."


UPDATE May 2, 2017

 Interlochen Arts Academy teacher David Montee, PhD, sent Oberon a photo of his Acting Shakespeare students who signed SAC's "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare" after studying the topic and attending the "Shakespeare Authorship Symposium" Montee organized at Interlochen Center for the Arts on April 22, 2017.

Interlochen Arts Academy students in David Montee's Acting Shakespeare class signed SAC's "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare" in April, 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017

Oberon Up North 2017 -- the Interlochen authorship symposium

Image of Marshall Fredericks' sculpture "Two Bears" at Interlochen Center for the Arts, photo by AJ Theil
by Linda Theil

Oberons returned to the happy scene of former visits when we attended the "Shakespeare Authorship Symposium" at Interlochen Center for the Arts on April 22, 2017. 

Interlochen theater-arts instructor, David Montee, PhD, welcomes attendees at the "Shakespeare Authorship Symposium" held in the Harvey Theater on the campus of Interlochen Center for the Arts on April 22, 2017.

Interlochen theater-arts instructor, David Montee, PhD, organized the event to supplement his student production of Cardenio by William Shakespare and John Fletcher that was presented this weekend at Interlochen.

Oberon chair Richard Joyrich, MD, delivers presentation at Interlochen "Shakespeare Authorship Symposium"April 22, 2017.

At the seminar, Oberon chair Richard Joyrich, MD, delivered an overview of the authorship question featuring John Shahan's "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare"  from the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition. 
Oberons Rosey Hunter, Sharon Hunter, Linda Theil, and Alisa Theil, attended to support Joyrich's endeavor.

Sharon Hunter and Rosey Hunter attended Interlochen "Shakespeare Authorship Symposium" April 22, 2017.

The symposium was held at Interlochen's Harvey Theater where over 150 Interlochen students, teachers, and interested locals attended the event.

Sabrina Feldman, PhD, presented at Interlochen's "Shakespeare Authorship Symposium" April 22, 2017.

Sabrina Feldman, PhD, author of The Apocryphal Shakespeare and Thomas Sackville and the Shakespearean Glass Slipper, traveled from Pasadena, CA -- where she is manager of the Planetary Science Instrument Development Office at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory -- to present information about the Shakespeare apocrypha and her proposed candidate for the authorship, Thomas Sackville.

Scott Harman presented at Interlochen's "Shakespeare Authorship Symposium" April 22, 2017.
Teacher, actor and scholar Scott Harman, ably presented the case for the traditional Stratfordian candidate.

Retired Interlochen Center for the Arts research manager, Gordon Berg,
lunches with Oberons at the Interlochen cafeteria April 22, 2017.

Also in attendance at the symposium was beloved Oberon friend, Gordon Berg, now retired from his position as research manager at Interlochen Center for the Arts from 2007 to 2015. Berg was a colleague of Oberon members Tom and Joy Townsend and Mara Radzvickas with whom he worked at the advertising agency BBDO Detroit. He hosted us Oberons at a memorable visit to Interlochen in June, 2009 -- see "Oberon Up North 2009 -- Day 1" on the Oberon weblog.

Berg resides nearby in Traverse City where he recently received his certification as a volunteer with Hospice of Michigan. He uses his musical skills on the guitar and banjo in his volunteer service. Berg is also writing the story of his father Harry Berg's experience as an eight-year-old caught in the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. 

It was so good to spend time with him during lunch break at the Interlochen cafeteria. He sent his greetings to absent Oberons, near and far.

Sharon Hunter, Linda Theil, Rosey Hunter, Richard Joyrich at the
 Hofbrau restaurant in Interlochen MI, April 23, 2017.

Oberons also paid several return visits to the nearby Hofbrau restaurant where, upon departure on Sunday, we enjoyed the most magnificent brunch ever witnessed by mankind (including the Palm Court brunch at the Netherland Plaza in Cincinnati).

David Montee is Lear at Interlochen Shakespeare Festival beginning June 30, 2017.
We are even now planning a return to Interlochen to see David Montee as Lear in the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival beginning June 30, 2017.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Oberon donates $500 to SOF's Shakespeare Identified Centennial Fund

Oberon Shakespeare Study Group donates $500 check to SOF Shakespeare Identified Centennial Fund

By Linda Theil

Oberon Shakespeare Study Group Chair Richard Joyrich, MD, sent a $500 check to the Shakespeare Oxford Society Shakespeare Identified Centennial Fund yesterday to honor the memory of Oberon members who have passed away. 

Oberons mourn the loss of our most recently deceased member, Reinaldo Perez, who died December 12, 2016. We continue to miss the friendship and insight of Oberon companions: R. Thomas Hunter (1942-2011), Ronald D. Halstead (1940-2014), and George Thomas Hunter (1923-2015).

In a letter to the SOF board of directors, Joyrich said:
All of these gentlemen were fine scholars and contributed greatly to our discussions at Oberon meetings as well as, in some cases, presenting papers at various authorship conferences. More information about each of them is available via the Oberon blog. . . . 
Although they held various viewpoints, they were all extremely interested in pursuing the authorship question and we at Oberon know that they would be pleased to help support the efforts of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship and related organizations in celebrating the centennial of the work of J. Thomas Looney.
Oberon members are especially pleased to support the SOF Shakespeare Identified Centennial Fund project of working with the J. Thomas Looney family to place a headstone on Looney's grave in Saltwell Cemetery, Gateshead, England. 

The SOF shared this video to thank donors:

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Cardenio's timeline

David Montee, PhD, is the director of Interlochen Center for the Arts April 21, 22, 23, 2017 production of Gregory Doran's version of Cardenio, a lost play attributed to John Fletcher and William Shakespeare. In this post, Montee shares his program notes on the history of Shakespeare's "lost play". Montee recently became a signatory to John Shahan's "Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare." LT, ed

David Montee, PhD, author of Translating Shakespeare: a Guide for Young Actors (Smith & Kraus 2014)

Cardenio's timeline
by guest blogger David Montee, PhD

1564—1616:  William Shakespeare’s life and career.
1623:  The first publication of Shakespeare’s collected plays, the First Folio.
1727:  Theatre entrepreneur, playwright, and Shakespeare editor Lewis Theobald announces that he has found and purchased “at considerable cost” three copies of a manuscript of a hitherto unknown Shakespeare play.  He announces plans to produce the play (slightly adapted to suit the tastes and sensibilities of his current audiences) at the Drury Lane Theatre. The play opens successfully in December of that year.  The plot of the play roughly follows a sub-plot of Don Quixote found in Book One of that novel that details the narrative of the madman Cardenio, whom the errant knight of the novel’s title encounters in his various wanderings; but all the major characters’ names have been changed.  (By Theobald?) As the play involves delicate subjects (for the early 18th Century, anyway), there appears to be substantial evidence of Theobald’s morally conscientious editing, as key scenes in the story seem to be missing—such as Dorotea’s rape by Fernando.
1728:  The play is first published under the title of its Drury Lane adaptation, seeing print in January under the title Double Falsehood; or The Distressed Lovers. Although successful with the general public, it is subsequently attacked as a fraud by Theobald’s peers, led by rival Shakespeare editor (and adaptor) Alexander Pope.
1733:  Theobald publishes his edition of the Complete Works of Shakespeare, following the contents of the First Folio of 1623; he does not include Double Falsehood. In a Second Preface to Double Falsehood, he seems to suggest that he now believes the play was (perhaps) not written by Shakespeare, but instead by John Fletcher.
1744:  Lewis Theobald dies. There is no specific accounting of the fate of his three “manuscripts”.
1767:  Double Falsehood is successfully revived at the Covent Garden Theatre in London, which (perhaps?) obtains possession of Theobald’s three original adapted “manuscripts” of the play.
1782:  Nearly four decades after Theobald’s death, a 1653 notation in the London’s Stationer’s Register is discovered that notes the bookseller/publisher Humphrey Moseley’s plan to publish a play of “The History of Cardenio, by Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Shakespeare”. Soon thereafter, court records of James I are also found that indicate that a play called Cardenna was presented at court performances by the King’s Men (Shakespeare’s company) during the 1612-1613 season. This coincides with the time that Shakespeare was writing collaborative plays (including Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen) with his fellow King’s Men playwright, John Fletcher; and the story of Cardenio (as previously noted) parallels the plot of Double Falsehood. If Moseley every actually published The History of Cardenio, no surviving copies have yet been found.
1856:  The Covent Garden Theatre is destroyed by fire, along with its archives of plays and manuscripts—including (presumably) Theobald’s original Double Falsehood documents.
2010:  Following renewed interest in the mystery surrounding the “lost” Shakespeare play Cardenio, generated by “re-imagined” theatrical versions by Gregory Doran (Artistic Director of the Royal Shakespeare Company) and Gary Taylor (editor of The Oxford Shakespeare), the prestigious Arden Shakespeare includes Double Falsehood in its annotated editions of Shakespeare’s plays.
2015:  Reports of academic linguistic studies of the text of Double Falsehood are published in both The New Yorker and The Times; the conclusions presented are that “the voices of Shakespeare and Fletcher predominate, and that Theobald’s is minimally present” (Alastair Gee, The New Yorker, June 19, 2015).

See also: